The [Full] Benefits of Barbell Thrusters: An Unbeatable Full-Body Exercise
Barbell Thrusters include overhead presses and squats.
All the research and my personal journey point out that these are the two best exercises to build strength and mass.
So, what if you combined them?
For obvious reasons, you should not be able to press your actual squat weight over your head thus you would have to use a lower weight.
Which you can use to do overhead presses easily.
Thus it is clear that Barbell thrusters are not your steady strength training exercise.
Meaning if you want to excel from 10 kg squat to 120 kg squat – barbell thrusters won’t help you.
Barbell thrusters are a dynamic movement and are compound in nature thus you will be able to use a lot of muscles.
It will thus train your endurance, muscle strength, and mass while using a short amount of time.
I often do this while I have only 15 minutes in hand. It serves a muscle + strength building + cardio workout – all in one.
PS: barbell hip thrusts are a different thing.
🏋️♂️ What are the benefits of barbell thrusters? for doin’ in your home gym?
Stronger Legs, Hips, and Glutes
Barbell thrusters are a compound movement that helps to strengthen the legs, hips, and buttocks.
This exercise places a lot of demand on the glutes, and with each rep, the glutes muscles become bigger and more powerful.
The quads, hamstrings, and glutes are all called upon to provide power to drive the weight from the lower body to the upper body.
Additionally, the arms, upper back, and core are recruited to assist in the movement and provide stability.
This exercise helps not only increase leg strength, but also upper body strength, helping to maximize calorie burn, strengthen the heart, and prevent brittle bones.
Improved Strength and Power Output
Barbell thrusters are a great way to improve strength and power output as they recruit a host of muscles throughout the upper and lower body.
It also leads to better overall athletic performance as more load can be supported in other movements.
Besides, as more energy is required for barbell thrusters, the body develops more endurance to withstand the additional effort.
With this, it is possible to perform more reps and sets, leading to increased muscle growth and improved conditioning.
Your overhead press grip will get super strong as well.
Burn More Calories
Barbell thrusters can help you burn more calories because they require significant energy and they increase your heart rate and oxygen intake, which raises your metabolic rate.
Squat alone burns a lot of calories as per research like this.
You are adding military press to it – imagine what it would do.
This in turn burns more calories during and after the workout, while also improving your aerobic capacity and strengthening your cardiovascular health.
Increased Cardiovascular Endurance
Barbell thrusters increase cardiovascular endurance by placing greater demands on the body for energy.
The exercise requires significant energy, so as one continues to perform the exercise fatigue sets in quickly.
The more you push through with this, the better your cardio health will be.
Increased cardiovascular endurance is often linked to having a healthy heart and a lower lipid profile (1).
Improved Balance and Coordination
Barbell thrusters can improve balance and coordination across the movement and develop strength.
You can get better with front squats with this as well. And a good front squat often means a better chance at doing Olympic lifts and other powerlifting moves better 🙂
Increased Muscle Hypertrophy
Barbell thrusters increase muscle hypertrophy by providing high loading potential which challenges the muscles in the upper body and the legs.
Barbend says using moderate to heavily loaded thrusters is good for building muscle all over your body.
Increased Strength and Power in the Squat Position
The barbell thruster is an effective compound movement that includes a low squat.
If you are using a moderate weight for this, then for sure your squat workout will get better as well.
We get better with practice – doing more squats will surely help you get better at it.
During the thruster, the leg drive is an important component that provides the “oomph” and allows heavier loads to be lifted.
The barbell is taken from the front rack position and up to the overhead position where the athlete develops how to be more efficient with control.
With engaged core and balance, your front squats will get better as well.
Increased Focus and Concentration
This squat-barbell press combo requires the lifter to be mindful and aware of their body’s movements while lifting.
I have got hit by a barbell on my chin before and that is not a pleasing sensation!
With heavy weight, the lifter must constantly pay attention to the way their body is moving and reacting to the weight.
As a result, barbell thrusters can help the lifter develop greater focus and concentration, thus helping them lift more weight with greater efficiency and control.
The Common Mistakes ☠️ How to perform barbell thrusters correctly?
Heels Come Off Floor
Inflexible ankles do not allow the knees to be extended far enough forward to support the squat position. You can use a weight-lifting shoe for this purpose.
Mobility for The Front Rack Position
Some athletes, they may need to work on increasing their shoulder and wrist mobility to properly assume this position.
If the barbell is too heavy for the lifter, or the core muscles are weak and unable to support the weight the spine might hyperextend.
When the spine hyperextends, it puts additional strain on the posterior chain and thoracic spine, which can lead to long-term injury if not corrected.
To mitigate the risk of hyperextension, it is important to use a weight that is appropriate for one’s strength level and to ensure that the core muscles are properly engaged.
Elbows Don’t Lock Out
If the elbows are not locked out during barbell thrusters, it prevents the barbell from being fully extended overhead.
Squatting Too Early
Squatting too early can lead to improper form and possible injury. To ensure proper form use lower weight and go slow.
What are barbell thrusters?
Barbell thrusters are a compound exercise combining a front squat and an overhead press.
This exercise can be done using a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or sandbag, and is a great way to work the quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, and back muscles.
Barbell thrusters can be used to improve muscular strength and explosive power when done with a higher weight and heavier reps, or improve your cardiovascular system when done with a low weight, high rep range.
Before attempting the exercise, make sure to warm up the legs, hips, wrists, and shoulders to avoid injury.
Thruster Variations and Alternatives
1. Push press
The push press is a popular variation on the thruster exercise which requires half or quarter-depth squats instead of full front squats.
This allows for the upper body to get a bigger workout as the barbell is driven up and overhead.
The push press is also an effective way to increase power and explosiveness, making it a popular option for athletes, weightlifters, and fitness enthusiasts alike.
2. Split jerk
The split jerk is an exercise that is similar to the push press but requires more balance and flexibility.
It involves dropping into a lunge as you press the weight overhead, allowing you to get lower and lift heavier.
The major difference between the split jerk and the thruster is that in a split jerk, you explosively extend your legs first, then split your legs to land with one foot forward and one foot back, and then press the weight overhead.
In a thruster, you would squat with the weight, then press it overhead.
The split jerk, therefore, requires more balance and flexibility, as well as fast feet, in order to complete the exercise correctly.
3. Power clean
The power clean is a simplified version of the Olympic clean and jerk lift.
It is a full-body exercise that targets many of the muscles in the body to build strength and power.
Unlike traditional cleans, power cleans require less complex motions and are often used in Crossfit and other sports training regimens.
Power cleans may be more difficult to master initially, but they can be incredibly effective at achieving fitness goals.
4. Wall ball
Wall ball is an exercise that has become increasingly popular through CrossFit.
It involves the same movement as a Thruster but with a medicine ball instead of a barbell.
The medicine ball is lighter and safer, making it a great option for lightweight, higher-rep workouts.
It is also more beginner-friendly, technically easier, and a better option for those unsure of their Thruster technique.
Unlike a barbell, medicine balls are more familiar-shaped objects and can be used for multiple exercises such as squat cleans, ball slams, Russian twists, and V-ups.
All in all, the wall ball is a great way for those to get the same workout as a Thruster but in a more beginner-friendly and safe way.
6. Sotts press
The Sotts Press is a strength and mobility exercise from the sport of Olympic weightlifting that combines a back squat with an overhead press.
It is a popular choice for a thruster because it is a tough exercise that helps to develop strength, power, and stability.
I have tried doing it and it is very difficult to do!
It also forces the body to engage multiple muscles at once to perform the movement, which can help to improve overall coordination and muscular balance.
The overhead press component of the Sotts Press helps to build upper body strength, particularly in the shoulders and triceps.
What muscles does a barbell thruster target?
The barbell thruster is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles.
The quadriceps, located on the front of your thighs, are responsible for extending your knees and flexing your hips.
The three hamstrings are the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus, and they flex the knees and help with hip extension.
The glutes, or gluteus maximus, also helps with hip extension and is a great muscle for building strength.
The core muscles, including rectus abdominis, erector spinae, transverse abdominis, and obliques, are also involved as they transfer force generated by the legs into the upper body and arms while keeping the spine stable.
How can I increase the difficulty of a barbell thruster?
To increase the difficulty of a barbell thruster, start by adding extra weight to the barbell.
Increase the amount of weight gradually, adding 1.25kg – 5kg plates on either side.
You can increase the number of reps and/or sets you are completing.
For muscular endurance, aim for 15-20 reps for 3 sets; for muscular hypertrophy, aim for 8-12 reps for 3 sets; for muscular strength, aim for 3-6 reps for 3 sets.
For example, if you are currently performing 8-12 reps for 3 sets, you could increase the difficulty by increasing the number of reps to 12-15 reps for 3 sets.
Make sure to rest in between sets to give your body time to recover.
As with any exercise, be sure to warm up and stretch before you start.
For further guidance on the correct technique or the best warm-up routines, feel free to ask a member of staff who are always happy to help.
Are there any risks associated with barbell thrusters?
Yes, there are risks associated with barbell thrusters.
This exercise is inherently risky due to its complexity and technical nature, and it is important to consider safety precautions before performing barbell thrusters.
Potential risks include injury due to incorrect technique, lack of momentum, improper weightlifting, and lack of experience.
It is also important to keep in mind that it is easy to put a significant and potentially injurious load on your lumbar spine when performing thrusters, so it is essential to maintain perfect technique to avoid injury.
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Can I do barbell thrusters with dumbbells?
Yes, you can do barbell thrusters with dumbbells, although it is a more difficult variation of the movement.
Unlike barbell thrusters, which allow your sides to work together, doing a thruster with dumbbells requires each side to work independently of the other, requiring more body control and awareness.
When doing dumbbell thrusters, it is important to start with really light weights and be mindful of proper form.
They are also a unilateral exercises, working each arm separately but simultaneously. You can also substitute other objects such as rocks, bags, or water bottles as a load if you don’t have access to dumbbells.
Are barbell thrusters a good choice for cardio workouts?
Yes, barbell thrusters are an excellent choice for cardio workouts, as they offer a full-body workout that improves strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health.
Not only do thrusters work virtually every muscle in the body, but they also help to increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular health.
Thrusters can be used at high rep schemes or as part of a CrossFit metabolic conditioning workout or HIIT workout, which can help to further enhance cardiac capacity.
With the right technique and a good warm-up, barbell thrusters are a great way to get your heart rate up and improve overall fitness.
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Are thrusters better than squats?
Thrusters and squats are both excellent exercises for building strength and muscle endurance.
Both provide benefits like working for multiple muscle groups, improving cardiovascular fitness, and building core strength.
However, thrusters are generally considered more intense than squats due to the combination of the front squat and overhead press, as well as the explosive strength needed to perform them.
This makes them better for transitioning into more complex lifts and high-intensity sports.
Additionally, thrusters can be done in a shorter amount of time compared to squats, making them a great time-saver.
Ultimately, while both exercises are beneficial, thrusters are generally considered more beneficial for those looking to make a quick transition into more complex exercises.
But for building absolute strength in OP and BB squat, you should do them and not barbell thrusters.
What is the best way to incorporate barbell thrusters into a workout routine?
The best way to incorporate barbell thrusters into a workout routine is to start with a lighter weight and work your way up as your fitness levels increase.
Keep this on a day on which you are not doing squat. Otherwise, you will burn out too quickly.